What is Carnivore Keto?
Carnivore Keto 101
Christopher Irvin, MS, The Ketologist
As the Ketogenic Diet increases in popularity there are new developing variations of the diet that are being researched for different uses. Examples of this include an MCT based Ketogenic Diet, Modified-Atkins Ketogenic Diets, and recently Carnivore Ketogenic Diets. A Carnivore Ketogenic Diet consists of only eating animal foods such as steak, eggs and fish. The diet has spread like wildfire because let’s face it who doesn’t love eating steak.
There are many goals that can be accomplished with a Carnivore Keto diet, with the most common being weight loss. There is a big boom of people who are making incredible transformations ranging from new Ketogenic Dieters to long time Ketogenic Dieters who are looking to push through a plateau.
Before you start eating steak and eggs every morning, lets take a deeper look at the diet.
What’s The Word On Keto?
There has been an extensive amount of work done on the Ketogenic Diet demonstrating how high fat moderate protein low carbohydrate diets offer a variety of health benefits. These include weight loss, improved cognition, improved blood profiles, improved gut health and even reductions in inflammation (1-4).
Research is also starting to pile on demonstrating that saturated fats and fats in general may not have as strong of a link to heart disease as once thought (5). When you put this into context, the idea of a strictly animal-based diet suddenly does not seem so farfetched any more.
Difference between Carnivore Keto and Traditional Keto
Since there is no real research looking at the Carnivore Keto diet, most data sets are anecdotal or based off previous research on the Ketogenic Diet. Therefore, it is important to make the distinctions between the two. A Ketogenic Diet typically follows a macronutrient break down of 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. Over time, the liver will start to produce ketone bodies as its main fuel source, nearly eliminating the need for carbohydrates for energy (6). The 5% carbohydrate allowance allows for some intake of vegetables, which provides Ketogenic Dieters with fiber and essential micronutrients.
The most common question from traditional Keto folks is the protein intake. A Carnivore Keto Diet is going to have a higher protein intake than a traditional Ketogenic Diet because the goal of the two diets is different. In a traditional Ketogenic Diet, the goal is to achieve a deeper state of ketosis, which is thought to be achieved with a higher fat, lower protein approach.
It is theorized that taking a Carnivore approach will lower your fat intake enough to increase the body’s reliance on burning its own fat for fuel. Additionally, it is being reported by many that this dietary approach can still allow for a state of ketosis to occur in the body, which many would argue would be an issue.
Moreover, research is starting to unveil that we can get the majority of the nutrients our body needs from eating a primarily meat-based diet.
Outside of the weight loss that many are reporting while eat Carnivore, the absence of carbohydrates may decrease inflammation levels throughout the body as well as gastric distress (8).
Interestingly, the carnivore Ketogenic Diet may benefit ”meat heads” in the gym as your protein intake will be sufficient to aid in recovery and lean mass gains. Additionally, high fat diets have been shown to aid in hormone production such as testosterone, which may also aid in performance and health adaptations (9).
This is really only a problem if not accounted for. Often times, Carnivore Dieters fail to vary their food to allow for more nutrients to get in the diet. Consuming a good blend of red meat, pork, poultry, and fish can allow you to get much of the nutrients you need to maintain your health. Supplementation can also be used if nutrient deficiencies still occur.
Carnivore Keto Recommended Foods
A traditional Carnivore Keto Diet is a little different from the list below. The list below has been made to account for some issues with the traditional Carnivore approach by allowing for oils like avocado and coconut oil. There is also a limit placed on dairy intake due to the carbohydrate content that most cheese contains.
Wrapping it all up
While there is a lot of research that needs to be done on Carnivore Keto, early evidence suggests that it is safe and effective for most people.
- Volek, J. S., Sharman, M. J., Gómez, A. L., Judelson, D. A., Rubin, M. R., Watson, G., ... & Kraemer, W. J. (2004). Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women. Nutrition & metabolism, 1(1), 13.
- Paoli, A., Rubini, A., Volek, J. S., & Grimaldi, K. A. (2013). Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. European journal of clinical nutrition, 67(8), 789.
- Ruskin, D. N., Kawamura Jr, M., & Masino, S. A. (2009). Reduced pain and inflammation in juvenile and adult rats fed a Ketogenic Diet. PloS one, 4(12), e8349.
- Paoli, A., Bianco, A., Damiani, E., & Bosco, G. (2014). Ketogenic Diet in neuromuscular and neurodegenerative diseases. BioMed research international, 2014.
- Siri-Tarino, P. W., Sun, Q., Hu, F. B., & Krauss, R. M. (2010). Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease–. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 91(3), 535-546.
- Swink, T. D., Vining, E. P., & Freeman, J. M. (1997). The Ketogenic Diet: 1997. Advances in pediatrics, 44, 297-329.
- Westman, E. C., Yancy, W. S., Mavropoulos, J. C., Marquart, M., & McDuffie, J. R. (2008). The effect of a low-carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutrition & metabolism, 5(1), 36.
- Yang, X., & Cheng, B. (2010). Neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory activities of Ketogenic Diet on MPTP-induced neurotoxicity. Journal of molecular neuroscience, 42(2), 145-153.c
- Dorgan, J. F., Judd, J. T., Longcope, C., Brown, C., Schatzkin, A., Clevidence, B. A., ... & Taylor, P. R. (1996). Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 64(6), 850-855.